Panel: “Building Your Program: Strategies for Recruitment and Retention”


Collegiate choral programs face one common issue: recruiting and retaining singers for their ensembles. This panel explores best practices from across the spectrum of the collegiate choral world surrounding this important issue.

We welcome applications from individuals whose research, scholarship, and experience could enrich a discussion of this timely topic. Applicants from all types of collegiate choral programs—large, small, conservatory, research university, liberal arts, and two-year—are encouraged to apply.


Dr. Elise Hepworth, Missouri Western State University

Dr. Elise Hepworth is professor and director of choral activities at Missouri Western State University in Saint Joseph, Missouri. She conducts the MWSU Concert Chorale and the MWSU Renaissance/Chamber Singers, recently performing at the Missouri Music Educators Association Conference/In-Service in January 2018. She is a member of Kantorei of Kansas City, performing with the ensemble at the 2019 ACDA National Conference in Kansas City, and is the founding director of the Robidoux Chorale, a semi-professional chamber ensemble in Saint Joseph.

She currently serves as Repertoire and Resources chair for the Missouri Choral Directors Association and as the Advancing Music Education Chair and co-chair of the Advocacy Network Council for the Missouri Music Educators Association. She also holds a membership with the National Association for Teachers of Singing.

Dr. Hepworth was recently awarded the Foundation for Teaching Excellence by Missouri Western State University, the Mayor’s Award for Arts Educator of the Year and the Shine On Award for the community of Saint Joseph, and the MCDA Northwest District Outstanding Director for the year 2016.  She is serving as her university’s faculty senate president for 2019–2020, and is an avid performer, clinician, and presenter.


Dr. Nathan Leaf, NC State University

Nathan Leaf is director of choral activities at North Carolina State University where he directs three choirs and heads the choral program. He is the artistic director of the Concert Singers of Cary, founded the chamber consort Voices of a New Renaissance, and was chorus master of North Carolina Opera. During his tenure at NC State, the choral and vocal areas have experienced significant growth. His work with singers emphasizes healthy vocal production and thoughtful musicality. He has served as a clinician and guest conductor throughout the country, and choirs under his direction have toured throughout the U.S. and abroad. Leaf sang for eight seasons as a member of the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus, and has also performed with Conspirare, True Concord, the Carnegie Hall Festival Chorus, and the Swedish choir Orphei Drängar. His stage credits include productions of La Cenerentola, Rigoletto, Tosca, Faust, Carmen, Il Trovatore, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica, Le Nozze di Figaro, A Little Night Music, and A Chorus Line, and his research on Swedish choral music earned several publications. Dr. Leaf holds a B.M.E. from Valparaiso University and M.M. and D.M.A. degrees from the University of Texas at Austin.


Dr. Andrew Minear, The University of Alabama

With over two hundred appearances across the United States, Dr. Andrew Minear is an active conductor, choral clinician, adjudicator, and presenter. He is the director of choral activities at the University of Alabama where he leads the university choirs, oversees the graduate choral conducting program, and teaches courses in conducting and choral literature. Dr. Minear’s conducting experience includes professional, university, high school, middle school, children’s choir, community choir, and both youth and adult church choir settings. He previously taught at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando when Cora Bella (SSAA) performed for State, Division, and National Conferences of ACDA.

Recent or upcoming conducting engagements include the National Concert Chorus in Carnegie Hall, Music and Worship Arts weeks in Lake Junaluska and Montreat, and all-state choirs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. In the summer of 2020, Dr. Minear will present his research on choral literature and programming at the 12th World Symposium on Choral Music in Auckland, New Zealand. He holds a DMA degree in choral conducting from Michigan State University and Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music Education degrees from Florida State University.


Prof. Bruce Rogers, Mt. San Antonio College

Bruce Rogers has been the director of choral activities at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, since 1994. His choirs have had the honor of performing at five California State Conventions, twelve ACDA Regional and National Conventions, as well as performing at four National Jazz Conferences (IAJE & JEN). They have achieved top ranking in national and international competitions throughout the world, including performances throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, China, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, South Africa, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic. Rogers has guest conducted the New York Chamber Orchestra and Festival Chorus at Carnegie Hall, conducted the Two-Year College Honor Choir at an ACDA National Conference, and conducted all-state choirs and/or guest lectured in 27 different states.

For his many achievements, Mt. San Antonio College presented Rogers with its prestigious Faculty Member of the Year award, the Upland Community Foundation honored him as a recipient of their 2010 Spotlight Award for Outstanding Educator, in 2013 he was awarded the CMEA Pearson-Silver Burdett Choral Educator Award honoring excellence in choral education and performance, and in 2014 he received the California Music Educators Association’s Outstanding Music Educator’s Award.


Dr. Gary Seighman, Trinity University

Gary Seighman is director of choral activities at Trinity University where he oversees a comprehensive choral program and teaches courses in conducting and secondary methods. Under his direction, Trinity’s ensembles have garnered regional and national accolades with invited performances at professional conferences, tours throughout the United States and abroad, and innovative collaborations.

Dr. Seighman has traveled to East Asia five times between 2015–2019 where he conducted the Peking University Summer Opera Program, led graduate masterclasses in Taiwan, and guest conducted throughout the Henan and Sichuan provinces. Recent conducting engagements include the Arkansas Intercollegiate Honor Choir, TMEA region choirs, Mozart’s Mass in C minor, and Haydn’s Die Schöpfung. In 2018, he served as chorusmaster for the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt and Vienna, Austria. His schedule this year includes speaking and conducting engagements in Nashville, New York City, Missouri, Hong Kong, Taiwan, London, and Dublin.

Seighman holds degrees from Westminster Choir College, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Maryland. His wife, Dr. Jennifer Seighman, is director of music at Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church and artistic director of the San Antonio Choral Society. They have two children, Justin and Gabrielle.